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Tigers look to upset Blue Devils in Durham

Ashleigh Snyder
Clemson guard Chase Hunter shoots a jump shot during the Tigers’ game against Boston College in Littlejohn Coliseum on Jan. 13, 2024.

After a rough road slate against conference opponents to start the month, the Clemson men’s basketball team dropped from 11-1 to 12-4. Now, after winning their most recent game against Florida State, the Tigers (13-5, 3-4 ACC) next look to upset the No. 12 Duke Blue Devils (14-4, 5-2 ACC) this Saturday when they travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

A win for Clemson would certainly elevate its chances of an NCAA tournament bid in March, though the road to success remains long.

While Clemson’s offense was hot at the start of the year, it has cooled down as of late, particularly from beyond the arc. Over the last five games, the Tigers have made 26.5% of their attempts from deep, including a 1-for-18 performance against North Carolina and a 3-for-21 performance against Georgia Tech.

That said, Clemson rebounded with a win over Florida State last week when PJ Hall, Joseph Girard III and Chase Hunter all lived up to their scoring potential.

Defensively, Clemson allows 73.1 points per game, ranking 227th in the country, meaning defense must be Clemson’s top priority against Duke, especially in the second half, as the Tigers have been allowing opponents to go on long runs unanswered.

In their most recent game, the Tigers allowed three different Seminoles to score double digits and gave up 37 points in the second half alone. Clemson and head coach Brad Brownell will be focused on limiting the Blue Devils’ scoring opportunities, as they rank in the top 35 in terms of both points per game and field goal efficiency this season.

“You’re going to have to win the game with your defense,” Brownell said after the Florida State win. “There have been some times this year in the second half where we have not guarded very well, and some things have gotten away from us, so if they’re going to want to win, they’re going to have to really stay connected defensively.”

Duke is led by star center Kyle Filipowski, who averages 18.2 points per game, 8.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. He has led the Blue Devils in all three of these categories since his arrival last year.

Though he does not consistently hit jump shots, he has demonstrated the ability to use his size and versatility to move defenders off the dribble. He doesn’t have the quickest first step either, but Filipowski makes up for it in transition, where he can easily go from end to end and outmuscle most big men.

Joining Filipowski in the starting five is senior guard Jeremy Roach, who leads the Blue Devils in steals with 1.5 per game while averaging 14.6 points on 50/86/45 shooting splits, making him another player Clemson’s defense must watch out for on Saturday.

Other Blue Devils of note include sophomores Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell. Mitchell, who averages 12.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game this season, dominated Louisville in his first game back from a knee injury on Tuesday, pouring in 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Despite missing a few games this season, Proctor has demonstrated his offensive abilities. He currently leads the team in assists with an average of 3.9 and recently set a new career high with 24 points in Tuesday’s victory over Louisville.

Clemson looks to reach .500 in ACC play and win a second straight game heading into this contest. Tipoff between the Tigers and the Blue Devils is slated for 4 p.m. on Saturday.

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About the Contributors
Angelo Feliberty, Senior Reporter
Ashleigh Snyder, Photo Editor
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